When entering Nice ‘N’ Sleazy, a well-reputed, poster-plastered, buzzing bar on Glasgow’s famous Sauchiehall Street, I was stunned to see Clean Cut Kid sitting right in front of me upon opening the door. Just chilling and chatting away whilst enjoying their casual pre-gig dinner amongst their fans, they certainly did not look the least bit nervous for what was about to be one of their most ground-breaking shows in Scotland.
Obviously not wanting to interrupt their dinner over some mere small talk, I decided to simply retreat to the bar and wait there – completely and utterly star-struck – wondering if anyone else there was feeling the same. When downstairs eventually opened up, I was so relieved that I would finally be able to look at the band and not have it verging on weird.
The first act, ST.MARTiiNS, are a Dundee-based band who are in the very early up-and-coming stages, and absolutely owned their set from the beginning right through to the end. They are exactly what our current music scene is needing; a focused, dynamic group of born performers who boast an effortless rock sound infused with electronic synth elements and an outstanding female front.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – we already have CHVRCHES, so why would we need ST.MARTiiNS? But, if you were to take a bit of CHVRCHES, a bit of (old school) Paramore, and a little bit of Flyleaf – mix them all together and ta-da, you would have ST.MARTiiNS – the perfect all-in-one rock band. Lead singer Katie has the most impressive, beautiful and diverse voice I have ever heard, who showed off her vocals by easily switching from deep to high in literally one breath.
The second support act were a band called False Friends, a Glasgow five-piece with roots based in County Tyrone. These guys showcase an interesting blend of folk, indie and rock; and you could tell from their faces that they loved every minute of their set as much as the audience did. It was so obvious that they were putting 100% of their efforts into every drum beat, every note sung, and every string plucked – and I don’t doubt that a lot of people – including myself – walked out of Nice ‘N’ Sleazy as new-found fans of False Friends.
If you’re going to give False Friends a listen, I would recommend trying out ‘All My Friends’ and ‘Loneliness’ – two songs that the audience responded really well to – and who knows what’s good better than the audience, right?
In no time at all, Clean Cut Kid leaped onstage and were getting stuck straight into ‘Runaway’, one of their more well-known songs to hype the audience up but ease them into the gig at the same time.
‘Make Believe’ was also played pretty early on in their set. It’s Clean Cut Kid’s latest release with an energetic and optimistic beat, but a conflictingly emotional meaning. During my previous interview with lead singer Mike Halls, he told me that ‘Make Believe’ is a song all about the final five minutes of a relationship; where you just want the other person to believe that everything’s okay and to forget about the daunting idea of breaking up, almost like living in a fantasy.
Whilst playing ‘Make Believe’, you could see how much they love this song, and how blown away they were that the audience were singing it back to them – especially with the song only being out a few weeks. ‘We Used to be In Love’ was another inevitable highlight that received a similar excited, positive response.
Despite their first album not being out yet, they played a few surprise never-before-heard tracks. These included tracks such as: ‘Stay’, ‘Brother of Mine’, and in particular ‘Evelyn’ – a song that had everyone gushing as lead singer Mike revealed that he wrote it about his fellow band member and wife, Evelyn.
‘Pick Me Up’ was the bounciest track of the lot. The bar upstairs must have been vibrating with the sheer amount of jumping and thudding coming from the audience and the band too. With it being such an utterly brilliant, infectious feel-good song to dance to, there mustn’t have been one still person in the whole place.
Towards the end, it was obvious that ‘Vitamin C’ was going to be their last and final song – except, to my surprise – it wasn’t. Each of the band members, plus the audience, put all of their remaining energy into ‘Vitamin C’, and it was actually quite a magical moment to witness. However, after this, the crowd furiously refused to accept the gig was over – chanting “one more tune” for a solid five minutes.
The band then decided spur-of-the-moment to come back and do exactly what the audience wanted – play one more tune. ‘Felt’ was a song that no one had heard of yet, but certainly acted out of sheer gladness like they’d known it forever.
Let’s just say, Clean Cut Kid’s performance was so good that night, I’m even contemplating getting tickets to The Courteeners gig next month just to see them support. They certainly surpassed my expectations and I truly left their gig on a high. There’s just something in the way they sing about really heartbreaking matters but in the most fun and vibrant way.
So, if you’re going through a rough break-up, this band would be your ultimate cure to just power through it and move on. Even if you’re not, their music is so relatable that you’re bound to find a connection with it.
Clean Cut Kid will be returning to Scotland on November 19 at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro supporting The Courteeners.